Was is Worth It?

Since returning to the land of the living, I’ve been asked several times “Was is worth it?”  Sometimes the question is well intentioned, sometimes there’s a hint of sarcasm behind it, but at the base of the question, there is a genuine curiosity if running a marathon was worth the health problems that came with it.

My sweet friend Nicole from Masters to Marathons made this for me while I was sick.  I LOVE IT!

My sweet friend Nicole from Masters2Marathons made this for me while I was sick. I LOVE IT!

A bit of background for context first.  Three weeks ago (approximately a week before Rock-n-Roll New Orleans) I started to feel sick.  I spent basically the entire week before the marathon trying to get rid of whatever bug I had picked up.  By the Saturday before the marathon I felt about 85-90%.  Sunday, race day, I woke up with a bit of a sore throat but otherwise felt fine; thankful I had dodged the bullet on being sick race day.  Monday, after the marathon, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and then got progressively worse throughout the week.  By that Thursday it hurt to breathe and I was coughing up green stuff.  {TMI? Sorry.}  I drug myself to the doctor, got a lecture, a shot in the butt and the diagnosis of bronchitis and sinusitis.

I was put on two medicines but the damage had already been done to my system.  I spent the next four days (Friday-Monday) in my jammies, coughing so hard at times that it made me throw up.  I had zero energy, couldn’t really talk (no voice) and didn’t have much of an appetite. I lost weight which is always a concern since my BMI is an underweight figure.  Probably the funniest side effect of being sick is that I {still three weeks later} sound like a man.

My doctor confirmed that if I hadn’t run the marathon, I would not have gotten sick like this.  Since I ran the marathon with a compromised immune system, it gave free range for whatever viruses I had in me take me down for the count.

When answering the question, “Was it worth it?”, I take into account the fact that these people don’t run; I have yet to be asked by another runner if it was worth it.  Non-runners don’t understand the effort that goes into preparing for a marathon.  To them, this is just like any other race I run.  They don’t realize that I registered for it 9 months ago.  Or that I dedicated 4 months of my life preparing for it.  Four months of “I’m sorry I can’t {insert fun event}, I have to run”, 16 weeks of sore muscles & body aches, 112 days of mental battles and questioning my ability if I could actually do it.  Not to mention the amount of money that went into shoes, clothes, fuel, etc.  No to them, this is just a race.

To me, it’s much more.  This marathon was a test of not only physical endurance but also overcoming that annoying voice in my head that still tells me “You’re not a real runner.  You’re just putting on a good charade.”  Running is so much more mental than physical.  If I had decided not to run the race due to health reasons (which would have been the smart thing) I would have felt completely defeated.  Like that little voice inside me won.  “See I told you you’re not a real runner.”  If I hadn’t ran that day, Rock-n-Roll New Orleans would have always been the race that got the best of me.  I would have always wondered what if…  I know myself and I know I would have a very hard time forgiving myself.

All of that is what flies through my head when they ask me if it was worth it.  But I know they wouldn’t understand, so I just simply say, “Yes. Yes, it was worth it.”

The marathon was two weeks ago and I finally feel like I’m on the upside of this crud.  I’m still coughing and having sinus issues but I was able last week for the first time in 10 days to do something physical.  I went for a 2 mile run on Wednesday and then a 3 mile run on Thursday.  Both runs were slower than normal and exhausting.  Saturday I went for a 5 mile run with walk intervals and felt pretty good; although my pace (with the walk intervals figured into it) was 2.5 minutes slower than usual.  It’s going to take me awhile to get back to where I was but I’m ok with that.  All things considered, I would not hesitate to run the marathon again.

Don’t forget to enter my Huma Energy Gel giveaway – contest closes tomorrow at midnight!

Question:  Have you ever ignored physical symptoms just to compete in an event? Was is worth it to you?

Just for the record, I don’t advocate running while sick or injured.  It’s a personal decision and one that should be made with care.

49 thoughts on “Was is Worth It?

  1. I participated in the Merrill Down and Dirty 10k while battling a cold. Race day I rallied but after … my body shut down. But I look back on it now and see how much fun I had, I’d do it all over again. But I would never run with an injury, like a torn or pulled muscle.

    • I’m so glad that you had fun running the 10k even though the after effects weren’t so pleasant. I totally agree with you about running injured. It would still be a hard decision to make but at least with an injury it’s a bit easier to swallow than not running because ‘I felt sick’.

  2. I ran the Diwn a d Dirty mud run 10k while battling a cold. I rallied for race day but after my body shut down. Looking back, I had so much fun and would do it again in a heart beat!

  3. Heck yeah was worth it! You’ve worked really hard for this and most other people who would never run a marathon don’t understand how much it means to us to accomplish that goal. You can’t really do one like every month but all the work that you put into it as well worth it and being sick, eh, that’s what medicine is for lol 😉 feel better boo!

    • Thanks, Kat. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way. If I had been injured it would have been an easier call (still not easy by any means) to make and, eventually, I would have forgiven myself. But I couldn’t let being sick get in the way.

  4. That’s something I think my parents question me about pretty often with all of my running. They’re always reminding me that it won’t be worth it in 10 years when I can’t run anymore and have more than enough different health problems. But the thing is, I’m happy right now. A marathon is something I aspire to do. It will be worth the pain to me and our bodies will bounce back. Besides, they always recommend taking time off running post-marathon for your legs anyways. This is probably your body’s reaction, even if you were sick before the marathon. You trained so hard for it, it would be crazy (in my eyes) to give that up.

    • I get questioned by my parents, too. I know that they have the best of intentions so it doesn’t bother me. I hope that you’re still running 10 years from now. You have totally have Boston in your future. Thanks for the support, Sarah. ❤

  5. That is by far an interesting question that I’ve gotten a lot. Was it worth it….I have found during 95% of my tapers, I have felt sick no matter what. (Not that serious by any means but sick). I think doing what you have a passion for is always worth it, even when others don’t see it.

    • I don’t really feel sick during tapers but I notice a lot more strange aches and pains. It’s like our system is saying ‘ok you’ve pushed me this hard, now let me show you who’s boss.’ UGH.

  6. Heck yes, it had to be worth it. I think battling a cold is one thing, battling a cold AND running 26.2 miles is totally difference. It would have to be something pretty significant to keep me from running something I trained for months for… a cold wouldn’t hold me back. No way.

  7. I would have run the marathon!! So much training and dedication goes into it that spending 4 days vs. the 4 months that you prepared for it a bit under the weather, is in my opinion, absolutely worth a shot in the ass!!!

  8. Not a real runner?! Gina, what is wrong with you? 🙂

    You are absolutely right that many of us won’t understand how much blood, sweat, and tears you put into training and that you were going to run that race, even if you had to crawl it.. but you do need to remember that you need to take care of yourself so you don’t end up in a worse situation afterwards!

    I hope you feel better soon, girlie!!!

  9. I’m glad you’re feeling better, Gina! I’m a beginning runner – still working on 5Ks but dreaming on being a 2014 Princess :-). Those who encourage me tell me that simply hitting the pavement with the intent of improving means I’m a runner. And since I spend more time walking than running, trust me, YOU ARE A RUNNER! I read you for inspiration so YOU ARE A RUNNER! My first race, I was battling tendonitis. So many people told me to pass up the race because it’s not worth the possibility of damage. I did not work out for 3 days before my first race to rest my knee, the whole time fretting that with so little practice, I’d never make the finish line. But I knew, I KNEW I had to do this race. I’m a professional couch potato, and the only way to make the career change is to get our there and do it. So what if I didn’t come in first? For me, it was about putting forth the effort, otherwise that Princess medal will haunt me. And as sore and exhausted as I was, I found the reserves to run the last 100 yards across the finish line and it was the most exhilarating moment I can remember! Yes, I spent the next 2 days icing my knee, but every time I look at that medal, I realize that I made of tougher stuff than I had imagined. You’re right that it’s a personal choice. And I agree that it was worth it. This weekend is my 3rd 5K and I’ve decided not to do more until Fall. I want to work on improving my form and my pace, and I don’t need a race to do that. But I will continue to read your blog and several other Princesses as my inspiration so I too, can be a real runner 🙂

    • Aw, thank you so much! Reading this comment just made me smile, it was so sweet and humbling. I tell people all the time that they’re a ‘real runner’ the moment they get off the couch and lace up their shoes. (Kudos to you for breaking that professional couch potato image!) There is every shape and size imaginable in the running community which is one of the things that I love the most about it; it’s incredibly accepting.

      I know it seems silly for me to admit that I doubt whether or not I’m a real runner the truth is that there will always be that dumb inner voice casting doubt on my abilities. In order to keep it (the voice) at bay, sometimes I have to prove myself to, well, myself. I know that you understand that need with pushing yourself on your first 5k. Congrats to you for running it! I hope that you basked in all of your rockstar glory for crossing the finish line and getting that medal. Good luck on your 5k this weekend. And if I were you, I’d go ahead and start picking out a race outfit for Princess next year. I have no doubt that you will be at the starting line about to tackle your ½ marathon goal!

  10. You made the decision based on how you were feeling at the time. There was no way you could have known that you were at a potentially pivotal point in your sickness, meaning running the marathon would have made you more sick. But at the same time, you don’t know that NOT running the marathon would have prevented you from getting more sick. Or you could have not run the marathon and still be super sick like you are now. Hard to say whether the marathon was ‘the cause’ or just an ‘exacerbater’ or even ‘you would have been this sick anyway whether or not you ran’….

    So, what I’m trying to say is that you did what you did, you made it, you are alive and on the mend and only you can decide how you want to interpret these events for future race complications. Me just being me, I probably would have still tried, maybe walked more than you might have (whole asthma thing), but I do understand how hard it is to refrain from doing something you trained so hard for.

    P.S. Thanks for including my meme made for you! Made me smile to see it again!

    • Gah, you’re meme was EPIC!! I seriously loved it so much (and I believe it helped me get better, too)! I definitely agree with what you’re saying. If I hadn’t run the marathon I would have always questioned my decision. If you had felt the way I felt on race day (basically not sick at all) you would have ran it, too. 🙂 Hindsight, I probably should have taken it a bit easier but it’s all water under the bridge now.

  11. I personally think you did the right thing. Spending the week following the marathon slightly ill and depressed about not doing it would have been mentally devastating. Get yourself healthy, and be proud of your accomplishments. Best wishes!

  12. im so glad that youre getting back to your healthy self now, lady!! i totally admire all of your dedication and hard work. youre most definitely a runner, and a VERY good one at that!!! i really look up to you for your “finish what i started” attitude and knowing exactly why you do what you do. youre an incredibly strong woman! ❤

    • Right? I didn’t even know it was really a concern until I kept getting asked. Then I thought that maybe I was crazy… Clearly reading the responses to this post, I know that even if I am crazy, I’m not alone. =D

  13. I am glad you are feeling better. I think you made the best decision for yourself. Looking back even if you knew you;d be sick for 2 weeks after the marathon I have a feeling you would have still run. It’s hard to give up on all that time and effort you put in. I think you did what felt right for you even if other people, especially nonrunners, don’t understand.

    • For having never met me, you know me pretty darn well, Abby. I definitely agree that I would have ran it. Now if I had been injured, that would be totally different. In my mind and injury is totally ok to back out of a race, I guess because the decision is taken out of my hands.

  14. I’d probably say the same thing if it were me in your shoes. You put a lot of effort into the race and training, so it would be silly to skip out because your throat was sore the day of. If you were coughing up green goo the day of, that would be a different story 🙂

  15. Definitely my mom. She was so brave when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and stayed strong when she saw we were scared. I hope I can one day be as selfless with my own children. Great post!

  16. Gina, Kissing that handsome redheaded hubby of yours at mile 10 may have had something to do with getting reinocculated with the germs. Sometimes God allows an illness to get our attention and have us seek him. I don’t know what you gained from the down time but you do. As for the doc, he sounds like he was on an ego trip. Love you and support you, Mom

  17. Your doctor doesn’t know you well. Gina will only do what Gina wants on her own free choice. ( Is that Irish or Norwegian stubborness.)

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